This is apparently Uncontrollable Crying Jag Day.
And hormones yeah, but I think a big part of it is me finally being emotionally ready to write Places You Haunt, finally giving myself permission.
And like all of my Vegas stuff, this is quasiautobiographical. PYH is less the bare-facts version and more the magic and metaphor version. But - parts of that were still my life.
And parts of these characters are still my first chosen family.
They've metamorphosed over the years, of course. Kellen is no longer just Layne, Griffin is no longer just Garet, and lord knows Doodle was only ever a tiny bit Geordie, and then really just in the wardrobe. (Axis is still Hal, though, and Hal twines through everything of Vegas for me; maybe because he was my last big brother, maybe because I was his secret-keeper, I dunno. I love him. I love all of them. He's there.) And now I guess they're an echo of that family.
And I feel like when it's all out on paper, I will have to let go. Of it. Of them.
And seeing as so many of them are dead or gone, it feels like letting go of them, like saying goodbye.
One morning, Hal and I were sitting on a rare green embankment. We'd been walking through the city all night. This was sunrise. Not tired; tweaking. Hal had been flirting with me all night, like he always did - flirting was his autopilot. But he got serious, and he said "I want to tell you something. Because I can't be the only one who holds it."
And he talked for probably hours, and he was crying before he was halfway through. Because Hal's life was hard, in his past and in that present, but when you're a dealer in Vegas and you're in and out of jail and yo have the position he had in the punk rock junkie community, you do not show weakness; horrible things are done around you, sometimes by you, and you kind of have to set part of your humanity aside just to survive.
And that was part of what he did with me. He gave me everything that felt like it would break him. Because he could not carry it alone. So me, I was sister and priestess.
He shows up in my stories because I still hold pieces of him. Transmuted. Alchemical.
What I did for him was listen and love him. And I did that for all of them. I listened, and I love them, and I do not want them to be gone.
I have carried them, or pieces of them, for fifteen years.
I don't think I'll ever know what happened to Hal. Googling avails me naught; he lived an off-the-grid life, and I've never seen a trace of him online. I don't think he'd ever leave Vegas. I think Vegas would have gone on hurting him. I think maybe a overdose or maybe a fight - knife, gun. I think my big brother is gone.
But some part of me is still sitting with him and listening and helping to hold his heart as it broke, and helping to stitch it back together. And my gift to him is that part of him lives always here, the nightside of the city that shaped him - and that he is always, always loved.